USA*Engage and NFTC Endorse Call by House Leaders to Change U.S. Cuba Policy

Monday, 18 June 2007
“When it comes to our Cuba policy, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot – repeatedly.  It’s time to come to grips with the fact that our decades-long policies towards Cuba haven’t worked,” said Jake Colvin, Director of USA*Engage.  “There is clear excitement for change, and we look forward to supporting efforts by Congress to improve contacts between the American and Cuban people.”
 
Rep. Rangel delivered brief remarks and noted, “There’s so much hypocrisy that drips from this [policy] that we owe it to ourselves to try to find out what works. And what works is for Cubans to get to know us, for Castro not to be able to say that every problem that they have over there is due to the embargo, to help some of our people in farm country, to help [the Cuban] people with chicken, rice, pork – all the things that they’re going to Europe for.”
 
Referencing a bill introduced earlier this year with Representative Jeff Flake (AZ) to open travel to Cuba, Rangel concluded, “Normally, in the past, it was which side are you on because of who was sponsoring the amendment. Now it’s a bipartisan amendment. I hope it gets bipartisan support to break down the shackles and have honest debate about what’s good for America and the people of Cuba.”
 
Other Members in attendance included Representatives Jim Cooper (TN), Jane Harman (CA), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Yvette Clarke (NY), Gregory Meeks (NY), Bill Delahunt (MA), Bob Etheridge (NC), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Lincoln Davis (TN), Collin Peterson (MN), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Jim Moran (VA), Ruben Hinojosa (TX), Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Dave Loebsack (IA).
 
“We very much believe that we need to have some changes in the way we trade with Cuba. This is a big potential market for us in agriculture,” said Rep. Peterson. “We are going to do everything we can to make sure not only that we open up trade with Cuba on agriculture, but also open it up across the board.”
 
According to Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (MO), “It’s my hope that we can make a little more progress this year because common sense is lacking in our dealings with the country of Cuba….Trade and opening of markets opens ideas and opens people’s minds and will enable us to build bridges that really haven’t been there for 40 plus years, but that culturally are there.”

“We are encouraged that there is so much energy and enthusiasm among Members to rethink our Cuba policy,” said Colvin.

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USA*Engage (www.usaengage.org) is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org), USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy world wide.

The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.